Bitt + ECCB

In 2019, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the Barbados-based fintech company, Bitt Inc., signed a contract to conduct a blockchain-issued central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).

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During this pilot, the ECCB will mint a digital version of the Eastern Caribbean dollar (DXCD) as legal tender. To participate in the pilot, register with a financial institution, or an approved service provider. Download the DXCD mobile wallet application (free from mobile app stores) to manage funds, make purchases, and pay your bills. You can acquire DXCD by cashing in physical notes and coins, or converting funds from your bank account. Through implementation of the pilot, the ECCB hopes to increase opportunities for financial growth, competitiveness, and resilience for citizens of the ECCU. The DXCD pilot will address the following recurring issues:

1

Relatively high costs of current payment methods and banking services within the ECCU

2

Inadequacy of banking services in addressing the needs of various customers

3

Inefficient methods of settling cheque transactions, which slow the pace of commerce

DXCD users will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Pay or transfer money, without fees, in real time

  • Simple steps and easy-to-use interfaces

  • No bank account is required

  • Send money instantly to family, friends, and businesses within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU)

  • Secure and safe platform to facilitate your DXCD storage and transactions

  • No minimum spending amount (as in the case of card payment products)

  • No minimum balance required to maintain your DXCD account

  • Personal digital financial reports, provide real-time access to transaction records

  • Privacy and confidentiality of all your transaction information

Project Timeline

This timeline shows the different phases of the project, according to their scheduled calendar quarters:

2020

Q1

Software
Construction

For over a year, Bitt's team of developers has been building the ECCB-commissioned software that will mint and issue DXCD. This customised software will create and manage the DXCD payments platform for commercial banks, credit unions, businesses, and individuals within the ECCU.

Support &
Training Materials

Upon completion of training pilot, Bitt will equip participants (the ECCB, financial institutions, and merchants) with the tools and materials (documents, FAQ’s, and videos) to carry out the following:

  • Successfully train others within their institution

  • Perform ‘self-help’ with DXCD applications

  • Support their customers during pilot operations

Preliminary
Testing

In mid-March 2020, Bitt and the ECCB conducted preliminary testing of the DXCD applications with select stakeholder groups in St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada. This marked a major milestone accomplishment as the ECCB prepares for its scheduled June 2020 launch. Stakeholders tested early versions of DXCD applications, performed person-to-person transactions, and tested DXCD payments with merchants. Bitt will use this live testing phase for feedback, from actual software users, toward refinements ahead of launch.

Q2

Training
Activities

The Bitt team will conduct extensive training with the ECCB, financial institutions, and merchants. Training will be tailored to the skill level, needs, and expectations of each department within each institution. Training will be conducted in classroom style presentations, using a ‘Train the Trainer’ method. This training method will ensure that participants learn and simultaneously learn how to train others.

Acceptance
Testing

The purpose of acceptance testing is to evaluate the DXCD system’s compliance with prospective business requirements, and assess whether it is acceptable for delivery. This is formal testing of user needs, requirements, and business processes. This testing will determine if the DXCD system satisfies the acceptance criteria and will enable the users, customers, and other authorised entities to determine if to accept the existing DXCD system.

Security
Audit

We will conduct an assessment of the DXCD’s overall security posture, including cybersecurity. This security audit will verify that the current DXCD security strategy is adequate, and will uncover any vulnerabilities introduced by this new technology and its related processes.

Readiness
Assessment

Readiness assessments will identify potential challenges, new procedures, structures, and processes within a currency organisational context. This is an analysis of an organisation’s ability to transform processes, or change, to accommodate DXCD. Considerations are assessed in three key business areas: technical, commercial, and operations.

DXCD
Marketing

Communication will provide potential DXCD users with information about the technology, the application and its benefits, and how to get started.

In Q3, the ECCB ascribed the name ‘DCash’ to the pilot, and the associated app. The name ‘DCash’, literally meaning 'digital cash', was developed to resonate with consumers within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).

Retail Customer
Onboarding

Customers can sign up for DXCD applications in preparation for the launch of the pilot.

Q3

Monitoring &
Evaluation

Bitt and the ECCB will maintain continuous assessment of the performance of the DXCD pilot via routine collection of information, and the appraisal of data and information that inform strategic decisions.

Q4

The ECCB coined the nomenclature ‘DCash’ as the marketplace brand for DXCD. The DCash brand will appear on all consumer-facing software especially the merchant and consumer web and mobile applications.

Prior to the public launch, the ECCB, the registered financial institutions, select merchants and their staff will participate in a closed pilot. This exercise will enable these stakeholders to assess the efficacy of the entire DCash ecosystem.

The ECCB has designated non-depository financial institutions as 'DCash Agents' to facilitate the onboarding and customer service of consumers who do not have bank or credit union accounts.

2021

Q1

The ECCB publicly announced the DCash closed pilot exercise and celebrated the first consumer-to-merchant transaction with globally disseminated news releases. The central bank also used this opportunity to publicly state that DCash would launch at the end of Q1 2021.

Participating financial institutions and merchants worked with teams from Bitt and the ECCB to become operationally ready to manage DCash transactions. These strategic partners used the closed pilot to prepare their operations and marketing for the public launch.

Concurrently, Bitt also worked closely with the ECCB to develop and deploy a phased, multinational marketing and communications campaign anticipation of the public launch.

Q2

On 31 March 2021, DCash, designed and developed by international fintech company Bitt, in partnership with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), became the world’s first retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) to be publicly issued within a formal currency union.

Governor of the ECCB, Timothy Antoine, conducted DCash’s first cross-border transactions by sending $100 DCash from the ECCB’s Headquarters in Saint Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis to DCash Wallet holders in the three other pilot countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Saint Lucia.

This historic transaction was the climax of over two years of extensive research, consultations, planning, software development, operational training, merchant acquisition, customer service, and marketing achieved through collaboration with the ECCB, Bitt and multiple external stakeholders.

In April 2021, the decades-dormant La Soufrière volcano erupted in the Eastern Caribbean territory of Saint Vincent and The Grenadines (SVG). In May 2021, the ECCB announced that DCash will be issued in the volcano-struck territory in early Q3 2021. This increased the number of pilot countries to five.

Having recognized the critical task of rebuilding that economy, Bitt and the ECCB worked expeditiously to facilitate the rollout of DCash to benefit the citizens and residents of SVG.

The immediate objective of launching DCash in SVG was to provide faster, safer and cheaper remote person-to-person financial transactions, especially the exchange of DCash for physical cash. Authorized businesses and organizations, known as DCash Merchant Tellers, would facilitate DCash and physical cash exchanges. DCash users, in SVG or any of the other pilot countries, will be able to send much-needed funds directly to individuals in need or to relief organizations. Multidisciplinary teams from Bitt actively collaborated with ECCB officials to quickly establish and promote the SVG DCash Merchant Teller network.

Pilot Operations
& Maintenance

  • KPI Dashboard
  • MSA Agreement

FI DCash Adoption

  • Core Banking System - Test Integration
  • FI App Updates

New Territories

  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Dominica

Consumer / Merchant Growth

  • Ecommerce
  • Contact List Integration
  • Merchant Map
  • Back Office Web Panel

Q3

New Territories

  • Anguilla
  • Montserrat

Consumer / Merchant Growth

  • Push Notifications
  • Montserrat

DCash is considered legal tender under currently enacted legislation. However, cash will not be eliminated, and merchants will continue to accept it as a form of payment. The ECCB guarantees all funds on the DCash network against losses due to infrastructure failure for the duration of the pilot test.